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February 27, 2013

Council considers revisions to zoning rules

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

The City Council will give Troy’s zoning ordinances a tweak or 12 in coming weeks after the Planning Department and Planning Commission recommended some changes.

“We knew, going in, we would need changes,” City Planner Brent Savidant told the Troy City Council at the Feb. 18 meeting. The Planning Commission, Planning Department and Carlisle/Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant, recommend 14 minor changes, in effect fixing typos, to the zoning ordinances, and 12 more substantial changes. The council adopted a new set of ordinances in April of 2011.

Savidant said the changes reflect the two primary goals of the city’s master plan: to protect single-family neighborhoods and spur investment and redevelopment.

The proposed amendments would:

• allow parking in front of buildings, except in form-based districts —where the intent is to place buildings close to the street to encourage pedestrian traffic. These districts include Big Beaver, Maple and neighborhood nodes;

• permit vehicle repair facilities, antique and classic vehicle sales, ambulance facilities and vehicle rental businesses to operate in integrated industrial business, or IB, zoning districts by right and by special use within 300 feet from residentially zoned property;

• allow oil change facilities by right rather than by special use in commercial business, general business, IB and planned vehicle use districts;

• reduce the amount of landscaping required in form-based districts from 20 percent to 15 percent;

• reduce the required width of drive-through aisles from 12 feet to 10 feet;

• allow existing one-story buildings in IB districts to be converted into multifamily dwellings — new multifamily buildings in IB districts must be at least two stories;

• change the maximum time allowed for outdoor special events from four days to seven days to allow adequate time to set up, hold the event and clean up; and

• require a minimum lot frontage for single-family homes.

Council member Maureen McGinnis said she was a little concerned about allowing parking in the front of buildings.

“I prefer to see it streamlined and all the cars in the back,” she said.

Savidant explained that, while the concept works well in the form-based districts, many areas — such as 14 Mile, Rochester Road and John R — have development patterns that are already established.

“The goal initially was to apply it carte blanche,” Savidant said. “We now realize it’s more appropriate in form-based districts. We weren’t getting a bang for our buck the way it was applied.”

The council unanimously voted to delay action on considering the proposed changes until the March 4 meeting. Mayor Dane Slater and Councilman Doug Tietz were absent from the Feb. 18 meeting.

“I think there’s wisdom in delaying,” Mayor Pro Tem Wade Fleming said.

The complete list of the proposed amendments to the zoning ordinances may be seen on the city’s website, www.troymi.gov, under the City Council agenda for Feb. 18.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.